Poems

Losing a Crown in the National Portrait Gallery

6 February 2016

9:00 AM

6 February 2016

9:00 AM

The cafe was full of connoisseurs
of the scones. As he bit into his flapjack
a sinister uncoupling took place
and he felt the crown of a tooth jerk free —
to be rescued behind a discreet paper napkin.
Now the geography of his mouth was
unfamiliar, harsh and sharp.

No wonder those Tudors in their portraits
kept their mouths shut. No white-clad guru
for them, injecting, probing, drilling and finally
murmuring: One more rinse for me please.
No, they had to make do with white paint,
and opium, and hiding unfortunate
swellings under a generous ruff.

But no more speculation, for it is
Friday afternoon, and he must hurry home
to find a weekend dentist, who will
lay him down and restore him — whatever the cost —
from a tight-lipped misanthrope
to a man who can smile and show his teeth
with the best of them.

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